Investing in emerging markets is like watching the tides without the moon as a guide. Capital flows in and out in surges, and woe to the country that gets caught with bad policies when the tide suddenly goes out. Argentina has been getting that re-education of late, and now Turkey is watching capital flee for safer climes.
Turkey’s lira fell as much as 5% on Wednesday, and it’s lost more than a fifth of its value this year, adding to a long decline that is forcing extreme monetary measures to compensate. Much of the blame lies with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as Turkey has been running a current-account deficit that is on trend to exceed 6% of GDP. Turkey has been growing rapidly but the growth has been heavily financed by dollar-denominated investment.
Meanwhile, Mr. Erdogan has been beating the central bank like it’s Syria’s Bashar Assad. In Ankara this month, he called high interest rates “both the mother and father of all evils.” Investors took this to mean he’s exerting political control over Turkey’s central bank even as inflation has reached nearly 11%.